The word "greatness" scares people. Heck, sometimes it frightens me. It is because we think of greatness mostly in the context of astounding feats, historic accomplishments and breath-taking acts of heroics. Yet in our daily lives greatness means using the gifts and talents we have to the best of our ability in any given moment. Recently I had an email exchange with a friend of mine. Nancy agreed that I could share her story and our exchange to highlight the daily reality of greatness. The email correspondence went like this.
Nancy: How do you get great when you're in a slump? The job, the home, the kids... greatness feels like a heavy lift.
Scott: Sometimes it's the little things. Find something you do really well (something small) and do it and succeed. It is a great energy booster. Sometimes greatness resides in getting through the day without killing someone, or losing your temper. We tend to think of it as everything going great. Sometimes it is surviving the difficult stuff.
Nancy: After a long and unproductive weekend (not to mention my 30th high school reunion – how did I get so old??), Tuesday back at work was dragging. Last night, after I read your message I initially thought – ugh, I’m not good at anything. Well, that can’t be true. In fact, I’m a great shopper! First I laughed, then I was telling my daughter about it and she said – you’re right, Mom, and I need shoes for the formal dance on Friday, let’s shop (she HATES shopping, probably switched at birth, but I digress). We had a really enjoyable visit and bought shoes and a dress for an upcoming event. Although I didn’t discover a cure for cancer or solve the world economic crisis, it sure meant the world to her. And I didn’t kill anyone AND I didn’t lose my temper. All in all a great night. Sometimes I guess we just need to re-define greatness. Tonight I plan on making a great dinner – and making that be enough.
My friends and family remind me constantly that greatness can be scary because most people can only focus on getting through the day. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I believe that most people want to get through their day in a way that is fulfilling, passionate and powerful. When I plant my feet on the floor in the morning and choose to pursue greatness each day I may not solve all of the world's problems, but I'm focused on using all of my gifts and abilities in the best way I can, even on the tough days and making that be enough.